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A novel by Jude Watson (2002, Scholastic Paperbacks)
Jedi Apprentice Special Edition #2
42 years before and Star Wars: A New Hope

Ten years apart, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Anakin follow a Dark Side instructor looking for a Sith holocron.



Read June 20th to 21st, 2005  
    This was a fun mystery, with more great character work. In this story, counter to the previous Special Edition, I enjoyed the Qui-Gon - Obi-Wan section more than the Obi-Wan - Anakin section.

While the setup for the book was really good, with the Jedi getting more and more frustrated as time went on, the payoff was less entertaining. It seems improbable that as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are sent to the University to see a lecture on the Sith, the lecturer turns out to be the person looking for the holocron. Out of all the sects popping up in the galaxy, according to the Jedi Archives, the first one they visit yields all the rewards! Still, I was intrigued by the reactions of both Jedi to Dr. Lundi. Their concentration lagged, and their heads felt foggy. Lundi was obviously using some sort of Dark Side trick to make his students' attention unceasing.

A lecture turns into a whirlwind treasure hunt, as the Jedi unexpectedly end up following Lundi off Coruscant. Jocasta Nu, head of the Jedi Archives, tells them of several places where the Sith holocron might be located. Lundi is going to one of those planets. When he attempts to acquire difficult-to-obtain equipment, he gives up and goes to one of the other sites. Does this mean that there might be other holocrons? If so, shouldn't the Jedi be as concerned by those as they are for the one on Kodai?

I liked seeing the Jedi relationship from the Master's point of view. Qui-Gon sees how upset Obi-Wan gets at every impasse. I find it strange that every time they come across a lead, it suddenly vanishes. Is Lundi actually using the Force to distract them? It seems to me that Darth Sidious wouldn't let that happen. Qui-Gon is uneasy himself, but he projects a calmness for the sake of his Padawan. When they are being sabotaged as they go, he is able to get them thinking straight and save their lives. 

On Kodai, the moons synch up once every ten years (exactly ten years, it appears), allowing the waters to recede so far that ancient dwellings can be found from the sea bed. Lundi successfully retrieves the holocron from the remains of a Dark Side temple, but mysteriously loses it, something that is only resolved in the second part. As the flood waters come rushing back in, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon barely make it out with an unconscious Lundi.

It is likely that the person who was always sabotaging their mission, or planting bombs was Norval, Lundi's prize student, and the one who tried to steal the holocron from Lundi on the sea floor. But the holocron ended up deeper in a hot fissure, so it was lost for another ten years. It's a wonder to me that nobody has submersibles, or that droids have not been used for that purpose in all these years.

When the seas recede again, Obi-Wan is now the Master, with his Padawan Anakin. They visit one of Lundi's students, who seems to have gone insane even though he didn't have access to the holocron. They find out that Norval is deeply studying the Dark Side. So they take an insane Lundi back to Kodai, hoping that he can give them information on where to find the holocron. I think both times the Jedi waited much too long to get to the sea floor. Both times they had barely reached the bottom when the tide started coming in again. This time, Norval was there way ahead of them, much more organized, and escaped with the holocron.

They follow his ship to a nearby planet, where Anakin keeps an intercepting ship at bay while Obi-Wan retrieves the holocron after a short battle with Norval. It seemed false that Norval could gain the upper hand even as the ship rocked and Obi-Wan lost his balance. Obi-Wan had the power of the Force! Although it is never specifically said, I think we are supposed to assume that the mystery ship, and possibly some of the sabotage, were done on the order of Darth Sidious, possibly even by Count Dooku.

The interesting part of this story, as usual, were the character dynamics. Anakin's relationship with his master is very different from Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon's. Anakin is prone to anger and revenge. He doesn't think things through, just does them. He takes joy in using a Force-suggestion, and enjoys the power of flying a ship. Most of all, he is very curious about the Sith holocron. Yoda is right when he is concerned about Anakin, who expresses more joy at seeing action and adventure on this mission -much better than the boring mission they were on before this!

I think this is a fitting close to the Jedi Apprentice series. Although I will miss seeing Qui-Gon, I do look forward to more stories about Anakin, and the bond and trust that he builds with Obi-Wan. That trust is strained here, as Anakin withholds information (the information is not important, but the withholding is), and Obi-Wan is shocked and angered. But Obi-Wan must learn how to be a teacher, and Anakin must learn how to be a true learner. I think this will be fun.


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